VietNamNet Bridge – Rapid urbanisation in Viet Nam has caused headaches for local governments to deal with the planning of cities, experts said at recent seminar.



Panel discussion on Viet Nam's urbanisation and city leadership in urban management. — Photo


Industrialisation and modernisation have given rise to non-stop development of numerous urban areas in the country, with an urbanisation rate that has jumped from 18 per cent in 1990 to 35.5 per cent currently, according to the Ministry of Construction's Urban Management Department.

Since Viet Nam shifted to the market-based economy, urbanisation has grown quickly since 1999 with the number of cities with at least 4,000 residents increasing from 629 to 780, said Nguyen Viet Chien, the head of the department.

"While accounting for 35.5 per cent of the population in the country, but urban areas contribute an average of 72 per cent to 75 per cent to the country's gross domestic product," Chien told the seminar on urbanisation and the role of urban management last Friday.

"Many cities now serve as engines of national growth and contribute to the transition of the economic and labour structures in each locality," he said

However, Chien said Viet Nam's urbanisation in recent years has developed spontaneously and unequally across the country. This makes infrastructure systems in the cities overloaded and burdened with the issues of traffic, housing, employment and the urban environment.

"The Government has carried out general plans for urban planning but the implementation of such plans is still poor, there is no specific route for the order of the steps," Chien said.

He added that the policy implementation of the urban planning in many cities is not based on their needs and the resources available.

Chien pointed out traffic and sewerage management currently are the two most pressing concerns in Ha Noi and HCM City.

Overall master plan

Chien suggested the relocation of manufacturing factories, universities and educational institutions in the inner city to suburban areas as the immediate solution.

"Large hospitals also have to gradually be relocated to the suburbs, especially those causing pollution. But the relocation of those facilities is only a temporary short-term solution to address congestion," Chien said.

The Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung 's Decision No445 dated 2009 set a target to complete urban areas nation-wide by 2015, construct concentrated projects for big economic areas by 2020, and successfully build up a network of urban areas by 2025 so big and small urban areas can support each other.

Chien suggested that due attention should be given to creating jobs for labourers in small towns to foster economic growth and narrow the gap between big and small ones.

Regarding human resources, Tran Huu Ha, director of the Academy of Managers for Construction and Cities (AMC) said the government had approved Scheme 1961 in 2010 in order to focus on enhancing the capacity of city leaders in construction management and urban development.

Since then, the AMC has actively coordinated with relevant agencies to conduct 142 training courses, enhancing urban management capacity of more than 6600 officials working in this field.

This month, the World Bank (WB) and the AMC will bring international and national experts to provide training for 60 to 70 Vietnamese city leaders on international best practices for urban management.

RoK experience

Jai Young Ryu, Senior Adviser to the South Korea's Minister of Construction & Transportation, said in the late 1990s and early 2000s, their two big cities of Seoul and Busan also faced the similar problems as Viet Nam does now.

To solve the problems, the Korean government applied a series of synchronised solutions, including implementing a national long-term strategy for urban planning.

They also focused on transportation, housing and the construction of satellite towns, ring roads and expressways connecting these areas.

As the result, in the period of 2000-10, the population of Seoul and Busan dropped hundreds of thousands of people, urbanisation developed equally, reducing the development gap between different regions in the country, Ryu said.

Ryu suggested that cities in Viet Nam should have a similar strategy. If Vietnamese cities developed in the right direction with proper planning, its infrastructure and urbanisation process can reach the level of Korea today in 15 years.